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Va. governor’s tweaks to budget, bills sets up fight

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is heading toward a fight with the GOP-controlled General Assembly over his tweaks to the state budget, amendments to other bills and 40 vetoes.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, says he wants to slash funding for a 2019 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the 1619 founding of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown, the first arrival of African slaves in the British colonies, and other parts of the state’s colonial past. The planned event is a favorite of top Republicans, who have said the funding is necessary and is a solid investment.

His proposal to cut funds from $10 million to $5 million was the latest move that won’t go over well with Republicans when they return to Richmond on April 5 to vote on the governor’s amendments and vetoes. McAuliffe’s actions and the forthcoming votes come amid an election year, when all 100 House seats and top statewide offices are up for grabs and both parties are looking to fire up their base of supporters.

Here’s a look at some notable actions by McAuliffe on bills lawmakers passed this year:

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BUDGET MOVES:

McAuliffe said at a news conference Tuesday that he wants to reduce funding for the 2019 celebrations because he wants to set aside money to help cope with expected economic problems caused by President Donald Trump.

The governor said Trump’s proposed budget is doomed to fail and will lead to a stop-gap measure and a continued slowdown in defense spending, which is a huge part of the Virginia economy. McAuliffe also called Trump’s plan to slash funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup initiatives “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.”

The governor is proposing a budget tweak giving him authority to expand Medicaid. Republicans have successfully blocked McAuliffe’s efforts to expand Medicaid for three years and have vowed to continue to do so.

The governor’s amendments may be more about making a point than becoming law, as both chambers of the Republican-led General Assembly would have to approve them.

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ALEXANDRIA’S SEWAGE:

McAuliffe has entered a fierce debate over the city of Alexandria’s sewage problem that’s raised long-simmering tensions between lawmakers in Northern Virginia and those in other parts of the state.

The governor has proposed amendments that would give Alexandria more time to fix an infrastructure issue that sends millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Potomac River.

Some lawmakers felt the city wasn’t moving quickly enough to correct the environmental hazard, so they passed a bill requiring a fix by 2025.

The governor’s changes would give the city until 2027. They would also allow the state Department of Environmental Quality to extend that deadline as far as July 1, 2030, if regulators find the city is in compliance with existing permits and reporting requirements and is facing impediments beyond its control.

If his amendments don’t pass both chambers, McAuliffe must decide whether to veto or approve the original bill.

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HOT-BUTTON ISSUES

McAuliffe has vetoed 40 pieces of legislation this year, largely on hot-button social issues like guns, abortion and immigration.

That includes legislation banning localities from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws and a measure that would bar the government from punishing anyone who refuses to participate in same-sex weddings because of their religious beliefs.

Since taking office in 2014, the governor has vetoed more bills than any other in Virginia history. None of his vetoes have so far been overturned because a veto override would require a two-thirds majority in both chambers, something Republicans don’t have.

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Associated Press reporter Sarah Rankin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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